On Tuesday afternoon in Scottsdale, Texas Longhorns wide receiver commit Jake Smith was surprised by Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen during his Advanced Physical Education class and recognized as the 2018-19 Gatorade National Player of the Year. Smith’s family and friends walked in moments later.
The Notre Dame Prep star, who committed to the Longhorns back in June, received the award following a monster senior season that saw him lead the Saints to the 5A state championship game and a 13-1 record. In the process, Smith excelled at running back, wide receiver, and on special teams in catching 64 passes for 1,112 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 741 yards and 15 touchdowns. For good measure, the 6’1, 195-pounder returned two kickoffs for scores as well.
Now slated to play in the 2019 Under Armour All-American game to finish his high school career before heading to Austin, Smith gained 5,446 totals yards and scored 72 touchdowns despite suffering a broken tibia playing baseball as a freshman and then breaking his arm several months later playing football.
Smith is also a standout off the field — he has a 3.33 GPA and volunteered with St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Food Bank Community Kitchen, Feed My Starving Children and the Miracle League of Arizona.
Ranked as a consensus four-star prospect and the No. 81 player nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Smith is the No. 12 wide receiver in the country.
In June, he committed to Texas over offers from more than 32 schools, including USC.
“I fell in love at the spring game and I’ve known since then there was no other place for me,” Smith said in an interview with Sports360AZ.
“To me, it really just seems like the complete package,” he said. “I really didn’t find that anywhere else — at any other school I went to. It’s a great city, a place I want to live, a place I want to be if I get injured and I’m not playing football. I would still want to be in Austin.”
The coaching staff also played a large role in securing Smith’s commitment, from which he has not wavered over the intervening months, and plan to use him in the same type of versatile role that allowed him to star at Notre Dame Prep.
“They want to use me in the backfield and also at receiver,” Smith said. “A lot of the backfield stuff will be jet sweeps and just trying to get me the ball to the outside, but mainly I’ll play slot receiver and I think that’s where I’ll fit best. I’ll also have my opportunities on the outside on one-on-ones, so I think they want to use me in a lot of different ways. Also, in the return game, I forgot about that, so they see me as a versatile player and they want to use me that way.”
So look for the National Gatorade Football Player of the Year to make an immediate impact for the Longhorns in the slot and on special teams.